We have been in Charleston for the past two weeks while Jeannie attends to some family matters on the west coast and I have been working on the boat doing chores, reading and generally enjoying the wonderful weather of autumn in Charleston SC.
Our trip from Morehead city was a bit longer because a series of fronts that affected the offshore weather which had most boats running the ICW. We are in that pattern where tropical waves or worse work their way up the east coast and we start to get cold fronts from the north headed south. But for the most part its been warm and only a few days where it was chilly enough to need to wear warmer clothing.
We stayed in the Morehead Yacht Basin, which is our preferred over night stop. Currents are manageable, great protected harbor and floating docks, with easy in and out. We held up here for two days last Spring as a gale blew through.
This section of the ICW is one of our least favorite, for two reasons: first, there are four bridges whose timed openings are very challenging to coordinate. Two of them are openings on the hour, missing them is quite a wait and two are on the half hour. To work this we do frequent speed, distance and time calculations to work it right. While it might seem fairly straight forward there are so many small inlets that the currents change often and a two knot current will slow us down a bit or speed us up.
It is important to remember tugs have a lot of momentum when underway and cannot stop, start or change course quickly. They often have deep drafts with limited ability to navigate in narrow channels.
We monitor marine radio channels 16 and 13 and depending on the state, bridges can be hailed on either 13 or 9. We have become accustomed to "tug talk" it has an accent all its own and talks in the work boat jargon. It is much easier if you know the rules and how to work out approaches for overtaking or passing.
We have the added benefit of a class A AIS which will plot the target on our chartplotter and radar with the vessels name SOG (speed over ground), COG (course over ground) and similar data. In this case we hailed the captain by vessel name and worked out what he wanted us to do and wished him a good day.
Here are a few of our favorite homes of character along the waterway.
ABT Trac integrated hydraulics system. This is powered by 2 take offs (PTO) from the main engine, which powers the stabilizers, bow and stern thruster as well as the windlass. The cooling system is straightforward with a hydraulically driven water pump from the sea chest, strainer basket to a sight wheel, heat exchanger and then overboard. The sight gauge (top of tank next to the top of the heat exchanger) has been sluggish and on my list to clean. This could be any of the things I mentioned with the most obvious being strainer and or the impeller in the water pump. But not so.
When we got into port and could look it over the strainer was clean and the impeller looked fine but I replaced it anyway. The overboard discharge was very sluggish and with what appeared to me to be not enough water going through the system. The water pump is actually three things, the hydraulic motor, a coupler and the impeller housing.
It was spinning ,but slowly, and no amount of lubrication changed this. Checking the overboard discharge was equally disappointing. The unit was not getting enough water flow to keep it cool.
I spoke with the ABT tech ( great guy and wonderful service) and he had me adjust the hydraulic flow to the pump.
Coming into Charleston is always fun and interesting;
Now "our" preferred method of travel off the boat is walking or our bikes, just sayin...
Our hurricane southbound restriction ends November 1st, so we will depart Charleston later next week. So it is time to continue to work the maintenance list, knock the cob webs off, re-provision and work out our navigation, while keeping an eye on the weather.